Infobip helps facilitate all the interaction and communication between companies and their end-users. Zeid Shubailat, sales director, Infobip MENA spoke with Telecom Review about the company’s strategy, its service delivery in line with cloud communications and data sovereignty, and how it serves the telecom industry at large.
Can you tell us about yourself and Infobip’s journey so far? What are your growth strategy and plans for the year ahead, in consideration of the pandemic’s impact?
I've been in the information technology business for 30 years, starting from the US and going to the region in 2003. At Infobip, we focus on digital transformation, particularly on the digital customer journey and experience.
Infobip helps facilitate all the interactions and communication between companies and their end-users. Hence, the growth strategy is all about enabling our partners — the businesses — to interact with their customers across their preferred type of channels or mediums. People have become digital natives. The Gen Zs and alphas are expecting that interactions will all be done in the digital space.
What’s interesting is during the pandemic, there has been a shift in how people started to interact with companies. Reaching customers had to change as more people stayed at home, needing their requests to be met and their inquiries to be answered in a fast, efficient, and authentic way. As a result, companies had to figure out how to communicate with their customers in a new way.
A lot of the digital transformation for companies happens in the background, such as in data centers built with non-client facing infrastructure. But in cases like the unbanked population, companies had to find ways to offer new payment methods as well as establish new accounts virtually. In this way, the shift went from the digital transformation that focused on company data centers to the digital transformation that focused on customer interactions.
Infobip’s focus has always been customer-centric. That’s why we provide this platform that enables our customers to actually establish better and more efficient means of communication across all stages of the customer journey.
Looking into the future, the concept of super apps, a single application where users go to fulfill all of their needs, is expected to boom. This is the place where all communication can happen. A super app does not focus on how to download an app; but rather about we how we communicate via the app. That communication part is the most exciting part because we at Infobip manage to bring all of those communication channels under one roof. We enable our customers when they say ‘we want to go where our customer is’ — whether it is through mobile or desktops, SMS, WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook, etc. This is how our unified omnichannel platform comes into play, making Infobip the enabler of super apps.
What are the region-specific challenges Infobip faces when implementing new technologies? How does Infobip minimize risk and maximize customer experience?
If there is a challenge, it is that people want more, and we see this as an opportunity. Going back to the whole notion that super apps are not necessarily applications but a medium of communication between customers and corporations, our strategy moving forward is to provide all of the toolsets that enable this type of communication under one roof.
It will be up to the company to decide what type of tools they’re going to use but they're going to be influenced majorly by where their customer is. Thus, we don't force customers into channels of communication and do super apps; they tell us what they want.
Companies need the type of technologies that are flexible, open, scalable across multiple backend systems, and completely agnostic while the customer needs to have a frictionless way of actually interacting with the company. Infobip is at the center of that — the enablement of these kinds of communication.
Cloud communication technology is an essential part of the digital transformation journey. How do you see the adoption and influence of cloud communications in the region, and how do you market a digital-first customer experience through Infobip's programmable cloud communications platform?
The whole cloud part is about enablement and getting to markets in a faster way. What used to happen is that if you wanted to actually introduce a type of digital service, you would have to actually go out and purchase hardware, establish the data center, and all other telecom components.
That still happens, but cloud spans different concepts as it can be public, private, hybrid, local, or global. So, the focus of people who provide services now has been ‘how do I adapt to the needs of these customers?’ Developing solutions that are adaptable and can be deployed in different cloud environments becomes crucial.
There are also regulations that we have to work with. In certain cases such as governments, they have data sovereignty requirements, in which data needs to reside inside of the country. The way that we have architected our products, if clients require local sovereignty over their data, then we are able to use and partner with the local providers. We deploy all of our solutions inside locally hosted cloud providers, or if needed, at a global level.
Infobip provides cloud services for our customers and where their customers are, and it has to be aligned with all regulatory and security requirements. Whether it's security, privacy, or deployment requirements, you will find that all of these things are available worldwide (public cloud) or through our partner country providers to comply with digital sovereignty.
Can you elaborate on how Infobip enables telco transformation through modular, flexible, and integrated solutions?
Infobip grew within this whole telco space. Our core really sits in the telecommunications industry as what started as providing additional value-added services on top of SMS and voice obviously expanded to a lot more than that.
Telcos are our core partners as the type of services that we offer focuses on enabling their growth and digital transformation. Telcos want to reach enterprises, and they try to provide enterprises with additional services yet they still have to be super focused on their core offerings. That’s why we provide all of these technologies and integrate them as part of their offerings, so they can offer them to their customers.
Telcos are the top partners that we integrate with, and we become a part of their continuous value-added solutions. We provide all of the technology that enables them to really grow the pie and provide even more services to their clients.
In the Middle East region, how will Infobip continue to build its relationships with clients, particularly in the telecom industry?
We will be focusing on partnering with telecommunication providers and offering services like white labeling. Telecoms don't really have to invest as much in research and development but rather make partners that will enable them to provide additional services to their networks.
This is exactly the way the telecom industry works. It's not about how you spend more and more money and create your own intellectual property. At the end of the day, it's all about how we provide the best breed of services for our clients.
As far as our strategy goes, it is a continuous development of value-added services and providing omnichannel capabilities while working with our partners (telcos), helping them grow their customer base, and expanding their service base for their existing customers.